Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Friday, November 2, 2018

10 Percent of Low-Income Women Have Been Sexually Harassed by a Landlord, Study Finds

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2018 at 6:00 AM

One in ten low-income women report that they've been sexually harassed by a landlord, according to a new study by a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Rigel Oliveri, a professor at the MU School of Law, interviewed 100 randomly selected women for the pilot study. It's now been published in the Missouri Law Review.

The women reported harassment including being asked to trade sex for rent, lewd comments, home invasions and indecent exposure.
click to enlarge Rigel Oliveri. - COURTESY OF MIZZOU
  • Rigel Oliveri.

“While the sample was limited, I think the results of this study should be a wake-up call to policymakers,” Oliveri said in a press release. “Low-income women are easy prey for landlords who seek to exploit them for sex.”

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice settled a case with a north St. Louis landlord accused of harassing more than a dozen tenants. Hezekiah Webb allegedly touched his tenants without their consent, questioned them about their sexual partners and offered to reduce their rent if they slept with him. In one case, Webb had allegedly watched a tenant and her guests from outside the home.

Under the terms of the settlement, Webb had to pay $600,000 and was barred from acting as a property manager in the future.

Oliveri, an expert on fair housing laws, said in the release that she hoped lawmakers would take steps to provide greater oversight of landlords.

“The Me Too movement has sparked an important national discussion about the prevalence of sexual harassment in American society and the ways in which powerful people can use their positions both to exploit their vulnerable targets and to escape the consequences of their actions,” Oliveri said. “This conversation is a necessary starting point, but the focus on high-status workplaces overlooks other contexts in which sexual harassment occurs.”

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 15th, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation